Here we are. My first ever blogpost on the blogging, blogosphere. Blog me up the blog! How about it? Are we having fun yet? Sorry, had to get that business out of the way. I am in no way shape or form a big blogger but I thought I would vernture into the realm to get a few ideas rattling around in my nugget. First off, let's sell something. Because, that's why we do this, to make money, right?
So, what's up with the title? Ahh, yes. Last year, I got involved with what are called IFW's or Incentivized Freebie Websites. I wanted to get a PS3 and didn't want to spend $400 on one. I'm a new father and the pretty much the sole provider for my family, so I wasn't about to go shelling out $400 for something I'll get to play maybe once a week in between bottles and diapers. That's right, even though I am the "man" of the house, I do my share of dirty diapers and feeding of the little one. Why? Because, I'm a sucker. Actually, I want to be involved with my daughter as much as possible. But, now and again, it's nice that she takes those 2 hour naps allowing me to go pickup hookers, run from the cops, and blow up random cars all in the name of mindless entertainment ala Grand Theft Auto. This little gem of a drug hooked me into buying my PS2 when GTA III came out and with GTA IV on the near horizon, I wanted my PS3 ready and waiting for nap time.
Now why am I talking about a PS3 when this little dity is all about the iPhone? Because, I already got my PS3 and am working on another piece of geek gadgetry. That's right. I got the PS3. In the IFW world, they always advertise getting your PS3 or whatever for free. This is where you hook many and lose all. Everybody who sees the word free will instantly click and sign and pay... Wait, PAY? I thought it was free. Actually, it is entirely possible, yet highly probable that you will get anything for free in this world...except a dirt nap. Yet with these odds, it is still possible to do so. Let me explain.
I go to a site that promises a free iPhone. All I have to do is sign up for a free account. Try out.....pay attention here becuase this is important.....try out one of the website's offers through various vendors, complete the requirements, sign up 10 or more friends, and receive my free iPhone. Now, remember I said, pay attention? Good, that's where it no longer stays free. You see, in order for this or any other IFW to send you the iPhone, they need to secure so many referrals in order to get paid. The retailers, numbering in the hundreds all have an agreement with the IFW. They pay the IFW for every person who signs up and completes the requirements set forth by them. For an example, I used Stamps.com. This website offers a free trial for a month and $5.00 in free stamps just for trying out the service. All you do is sign up with your credit card and a pending charge sits on your account for 30 days or whatever the billing cycle is. After you complete the requirements of the trial and cancel your account. The IFW recognizes that you've completed part one of the needed steps to get the iPhone.
Sounds confusing, huh? It is, and that is where people get hopelessly lost and decide to cut their losses. Let's try and make this a little clearer.
- I sign up at a site called http://www.myfreewhatever.com/. As of right now that site doesn't belong to anyone. They are offering a free iPhone if I sign up for a free trial at Stamps.com. I get a unique referral link to use for my friends.
- I sign up for the free trial at Stamps.com
- I print $5.00 in free postage.
- After a month, I cancel the service.
- I get credit on http://www.myfreewhatever.com/ for completing the Stamps.com trial.
- I sign up 10 friends and they do the above steps using my referral link. www.myfreewhatever.com/index.php?ref=12345
- I somehow convince, torture, shanghai, pay 10 people to do the above.
- All of the vendors who got completed trials pay http://www.myfreewhatever.com/ $XX.00 for each referral. They use that money to send me my iPhone.
It sounds like a lot of work, huh? It is. I signed up for a PS3 site in August. I completed the trial by September and it took until Decemeber to gather up enough referral signups to get my PS3. At first, I did what any n00b would do. I posted an ad on eBay. After all, that's where I got the idea. Man, I nearly sank the ship right there. I copied and pasted an ad and changed the link in hopes of getting all my refs in a week. Truth be told, I got 20 sign ups but no one completed an offer. I created an ad with tear off strips promoting my long ass URL which got another 3 or 4 signups, yet still no completed offers.
I started getting really frustrated. I was ready to be like everybody else and just give up. Of course, I'm stupid for that. I want to drag this on as long as possible. Then I joined a couple of message boards devoted to IFW's and freebies. Right off the bat I learned that using eBay was considered spam and could cause me to violate terms of service......like anyone reads those...and would cancel my account. I learned a lot of things about how to go about getting signups. In essence, I learned that I could pay people as little as $15 to signup and complete the process. I went from getting the PS3 for free to having to pay for it. I resigned myself to the idea that if I really wanted this to work, I should invest say $100 in the effort. Any more than that and I agree that I need my head examined. After all, the website said it would be free. Technically, they were right. The free trial didn't cost me a dime. I cancelled before it posted to my account. Had I been a little more aggressive and completely stopped working at my 9-5 job and devoted more time to collecting referrals, I could have done it. But, I wanted it NOW!
So, I started posting in the sections that allowed me to advertise and offered to pay people for signing up at my site. I even offered to trade links for other free items on the outside chance that I may come back to them later. Soon, sign ups started pouring into my site and little green checkmarks began appearing next to the names. I became excite because I was finally getting somewhere. I paid these folks money through PayPal to signup and try out the site and now these people have these....wonderful.....little....RED...X's...next to their......name. What the hell, just happened? Maybe, I should have made a mental note when these people communicated to me using broken english and insited I PAY NOW. That's right, I ran into a group of referral brokers. Usually, they are from outside the US/Canada area and pose as your everyday freebie junkie. They answer your ad and offer to do the site using the least amount of adjectives as humanly possible in communicating. Then, they pay a fraction of what you offer to some person with an internet connection to go on the site and sign up. After that, they move onto the next person and repeat the same process using the same site and same vendor....a no no in some IFW's. If you sign up for a free iPhone with one site, depending on their structure, you usually cannot repeat the site again. Likewise, if you use Stamps.com to complete the requirements for an iPhone site, you cannot complete Stamps.com for say a Wii site. The vendors won't recognize new interest and people are likely to just try and fly leaving the vendor high and dry.
After all was said and done and I managed to get $0.20 back from my scam artists through PayPal, I noticed that I had enough referrals for a PS3. I placed my order and within 14 days, I had a PS3 sitting on my front porch complete with a game of my choice. I ended up spending $150 on the site and made $50 back from someone who screwed up in my favor. Then, the kicker, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Usually, I hated having to tell her what to get me, because I never know. I made an offhanded comment, "How about $100 for a PS3?" She wrote me a check.
So, there you have it. I did get the PS3 for free......kinda. Now, I'm going back and trying to get the iPhone. Well, actually, I have no need for an iPhone. They're way too expensive to manage. I've heard the horror stories about the bills. But, the IFW site that is offering the iPhone also has an option to choose $490 or $580 in PayPal cash instead. The way I figure it, I can make roughly $200-$300 using the same method I did to get the PS3.
Now that you've read this whole blog entry and are bleeding from the eyeballs, I will offer you the proof of this venture.
This here is the picture of my PS3 box lying on my spare bedroom floor. Ugly carpeting, huh?
Here's a screenshot of the site I used showing I completed all requirements. Note, I did change the link because I am no longer accepting signups since I completed the site. If you really want to sign up, you'll be able to figure out the address.
Quick shot of the little green checks and red X's. They're magically delicious. I blurred the email addresses to protect from spam.
Finally, the clincher. The Amazon slip from the parent site shipping my PS3. Again, I've blurred out my address as to protect angry mobs from showing up at my door.